Analysis by Sherman C. Seequeh
There was a sizable crowd and it seemed everyone wanted to peep at the characters, the attraction of the scene. Three young girls were stuffing their Toyota pickup truck and a Nissan Patrol jeep with domestic electronic equipment—huge television sets, speakers—in additional to other parcels of personal effects apparently just purchased. While a few Zokos who might have known these girls around Monrovia were struggling to extract some Christmas gifts from them, a couple of bystanders were admiring their transformation as testified to. The sudden movement generated quite a stampede on Randall Street with throngs of admirers struggling to see the young women. Even more bystanders and passersby got attracted to the scene.
“I know that girl; don’t you?” one street peddler said, pointing his finger at the lean-looking but fair-colored girl giving instructions to store-boys how to pack the goods into the vehicles. “We were all on Carey Street here selling ‘valued cloths’ up and down. But I understand she’s now working at one of the government agencies as an assistant director or something. See how she looks now!”
Sure, many new crops of Liberians have since taken their seats at the national dinner table and their looks or appearances have been changing in many significant ways, positively. In other words, most young people who are, during this Christmas season, sweeping the selves of stores and supermarkets and ordinary marketplaces and are stuffing their homes with various kinds of personal effects and giving out gifts to neighbors, friends and family members are new arrivers in the Liberian financial arena. They have taken the places of their compatriots, Liberians who were in similar financial positions working in Government twelve years or so ago.
So, for the first Christmas of these new arrivers–some of them their first ever on the job–these folks having gained access to the National Cake at the Liberian national dinner table are on the spree to get whatever their newly gained financial power can allow. And the young girls on Randall Street the other day were all clearly in huge shopping frenzy, and those who knew their difficult days got marveled at their transformation.
Not all folks will be pleased with this. In fact as the crowd gathered around the young women and their vehicles, there were those who remarked, “These are the people eating our country money and making life difficult for the rest of Liberians.” Amongst those who will be displeased with the spectacle or the way things look in the country are those who, along with their relatives or their acquaintances, lost their seats at the national dinner table in the conundrum of democracy.
So, even though the Christmas fever in the country never changed in any significant way, as Waterside is impassable and other marketplaces around the country remain jostling as before, these direct or indirect victims of democracy and politics don’t see it that way. For them, this is the worst Christmas ever in the history of Liberia. For them, the Country is in the hands of the wrong people—some say economic vampires, others say misfits. For them, the economy is worse; money is not flowing all over the place.
Listen to the talk shows. Read the newspapers. Visit atayee centers. Literally, some Liberians are spewing naked venoms. As the young folks would say, ‘they are cussing ma cuss.’ They are using the crudest profanities. They are not only swearing and damning those who toppled them or their benefactors from the national dinner table democratically; they are also wishing Liberia hell and doom. Left with them, Liberia should perish now, right now. There is no reason for them to be called Liberian; for there is nothing to live for.
There is a sense in which one can understand people who have resorted to ‘ma cusses’ on radio and other places. One way or the other, they or someone they milked had lived on Government like bee on honeycomb. In the last 12 years or before then, their lives were struck to Government largess like critical patient to oxygen (life-support). At this time in their days—when Christmas was rising on the horizon—it was time to beautify their homes, to drink drinks of all kinds, share with friends and relatives, travel the world in fanfare and line their pockets with countless Uncle Sam’s notes. All that was a result of their direct or indirect place at the National Dinner Table and the Cake on it.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case this Christmas. The democratic volcano that erupted on December 26, 2017 dynamited the national mosaic. While some lucky ones remain unscathed, hundreds or thousands of compatriots are blown away from the center of power—economic and political powers—and the ripple effects have triggered down from hundreds of direct victims to thousands of indirect victims. What hammers a sharp pin into the sore of the victimization most is the close of the year—at Christmas—when all ‘the fine time’ is lost to others.
But is that not one of the beauties or pains of democracy? Democracy is about the alternation of power and the legitimate pecuniary gains that come with it. Periodic elections that come with democracy offer two things: firstly, it alternates the exercise of political power and national development responsibilities from one group to another; and secondly, it alternates participants at the national dinner table from time to time. For others, once these democratic privileges and rights elude them, the solution is to vent anger and frustration through ‘ma cusses’ and the call for war. These are compatriots who think their umbilical cords are tied to the national mosaic and any attempt to sever it must be acquitted with expression of ire and vituperation.
Unfortunately, the situation of these extremely angry citizens cannot be helped in so far as democracy, widely cherished by all, decrees elections and elections in turn decree power alternation, and power alternation decrees the National Cake’s rotation. This is what it has been in the free world and that’s how it is in Liberia. These folks might mask their anger and the extremity with which they express it with purported government excesses, but behind the mask is the frustration or what some folks call ‘post-elections traumatic disorder’ which has got inflamed by the advent of Christmas, the first since the December 26, 2017 waterloo. This is to flare up to extremity during these festive times. And it is understandable.
Sure, there are others who really don’t have; people who have not had anything place in the national dinner table. They truly may not have had any means or opportunity to spend their life well. When they vent their angers, one can understand why. But has it not been that way since eternity? Is it unique to Liberia? Neither the CDC government nor any regime before and after it ever guarantees Elysian Field or paradise where poverty and inequality evaporate fully. It would be foolhardy that anyone expects that. There will be pockets of impoverished people and no man-made regime will erase that. In Liberia, the number will reduce, as guaranteed by the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development. But certainly, it is not in just 12 months. Ar-Dohh-Nan-hoo.